one of my most hated phrases in my teenage years was when a teacher or youth leader said: “my job is to speak, yours is to listen.” in fact, i still hate hearing it today, probably because i think its a huge pile of rubbish. probably for education, but almost certainly for the church.

for me, it sends out such a negative message to the ‘listeners’…that their voice is not to be heard. that what they have to say is not important. i’m beginning to fear that this is something we are continuing to back up in the church. for too long, young people’s voices have been lost within our church communities.

perhaps the opposite of this statement should be true. that as leaders of young people, “our job should be to listen, and theirs should be to speak.” maybe in their conversation we will learn and be challenged. and as young people articulate feelings, beliefs and challenges, we should find ourselves in a better place to minister and influence.

i’ve loved watching some of our young people in church grow in confidence this year as they have had more space to interact, discuss, create, present and do this year. yes it’s a well known educational fact that these methods are among the best way in discovery, but more than that, i truly believe that our young people need their voice to be heard. and not just heard, but valued.

and as we hear more of these voices, we will grow in ways we never imagined. as we listen more, our words will suddenly gain more power.

“a time to be silent and a time to speak”
ecclesiastes 3:7b